Welcome to the off-season.
|A little bit of this ain't such a bad thing.|
Fat - After a season of racing the body needs a break away from rigors of trying to reach peak fitness. Putting on a few pounds this time of year is not only likely (think Thanksgiving pie and Xmas cookies), it is suggested. Staying at race weight year round puts undue stress on the body. Check the ego, do what's right for your long-term health.
Dumb - No, I'm not saying go out and do something stupid. What I'm saying is, no matter how good or bad your year turned out, now's the time to let it go and just get some easy training in for the sake of training. What happened happened. Let. It. Go. And while you're at it, forget about structure, and intervals, and data file, and anything else that makes you think about your past racing or the racing you will do in the coming year. For a few weeks do what you want, when you want to do it. Your body will tell you when it is time to start thinking about getting serious again.
Happy - This is a different kind of happy from that which you get from a 5k PR or finally getting the Strava KOM you have been trying for all summer. This is the happy you get from a little r&r; the happy you get from an extra hour of sleep on Sunday morning; the happy you get from a ride with friends where you enjoy hanging out on the quiet back roads without concern for your average pace or how far you went. All that stuff you neglect because you have a 20 mile run to do at 6 am on Saturday morning? Yeah, that.
With that said, if your goal is to be better in 2015, there are things that can and should be taken care of during the downtime. Everyone is different, but there are some things that are universal. Here's my list of constructive things to do during your down time:
Heal Those Little Injuries - That little niggle in your calf? Give it time. Same for the tight hamstring or shoulder. Take the time to do what is necessary to feel 100% going into your base training phase.
Strengthen Up the Body - If you trained and raced hard you have broken your body down to some degree. hit the weight room, start taking a TRX class, or start doing the core work you "didn't have time for" the past few months.
|Like this but different.|
Embrace the Non-Training Side of Life - If this isn't self explanatory I really can't help you.
Plan for Next Season - If you consider yourself a triathlete, a cyclist, a runner, or any kind of endurance athlete your personality almost certainly runs somewhere from Type A to obsessive Type A. If you have actually managed to take some downtime you need something sport related to fill your head. Set your goals, determine your limiters, research what you need to do to get better, and plan out your race season.
For me these down weeks are different than in years past. After sustaining a knee injury I never completely gave the injury a chance to really rest. With an Ironman on the schedule I returned to the pool and riding in less than two weeks after surgery. Running took some more time to ramp back up, but by Summer I was back building mileage. I made it to Florida ready to race, but now I need to give the body proper care. Here's what I expect to be doing during the off-season, into the early part of 2015:
Unlike years past I will NOT be doing any racing for an extended period of time. Will I be at the Pumpkin Pie race on Thanksgiving? Yes, weather permitting. Will I be racing the Pumpkin Pie race on Thanksgiving? No, no, no, no, no. Plan is to participate and support a good cause. (Imagine that!!!) There are some other races I might participate in ... after all, it's a great excuse to grab some breakfast with friends!!! Participate is the key word.
As I tried to do last off season I will be focusing in on getting stronger. Over the years I have been a high volume guy, building up as much aerobic endurance as I could. Twelve months ago I came to the conclusion that my strength had become more of a limiter than anything else, so strength workouts were on the agenda. Once circumstances changed what I could and could not do, I did what I could. So heading into 2015 I will be focused on something I wanted to concentrate on in 2014.
As I have always done I will continue to focus on longevity in sport. I really, really enjoy swimming, biking, running and competing. I did my first race, the Chili Pepper 5k in 1995 (still have the unwearable, heavy cotton t-shirt) with not a major injury for almost 19 years. I have been the guy who is always there for training runs/rides. Consistent because I remained healthy. Not doing too many stupid things has helped, but focusing on health and wellness during this time of year is a huge contributing factor.
I will be ramping up much slower than I have in years past once the new year is upon us. It makes no sense to be in 5k or marathon shape in February when the races I care about will be much later in the year. I have a few goals I would like to hit next year and can't be concerned with the noise or wear that comes with a long race season.
I will be planning my 2015. Change is good and 2015 is looking like it will be a bit different than year's past. 2014 turned out to be a much different year than planned, but a good year nonetheless. The challenge I faced was not the one I expected. The unexpected twist has inspired me for the new year. I want to stick with some of the old but add a few new twists into the equation. Not much more to say about this right now.
As for the official start of my training year? Meet me for the annual mountain run on New Year's Eve day to see just how Fat, Dumb, and Happy I've become.
Thanks for reading.
Train hard. Stay focused.
Rule #11: When It's Time to Take an Off-Season, Take an Off-Season